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Oct 4, 2021
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How can the Kremlin take revenge on Saakashvili for South Ossetia?

In the photo: the former governor of the Odessa region and leader of the New Forces Movement party Mikhail Saakashvili.

In the photo: Mikhail Saakashvili, former governor of the Odessa region and leader of the New Forces Movement party. (Photo: AP / TASS)

Mikhail Saakashvili and his supporters were preparing “Maidan” and murders in Tbilisi. This statement was made by the Prime Minister of Georgia with reference to the special services. Irakli Garibashvili

According to Garibashvili, supporters of the ex-president from the United National Movement (UNM) intended to gather a crowd of 10,000, and after the arrest of Saakashvili and possible riots, to kill opposition leaders in the turmoil. This would lead to the delegitimization of the Georgian government abroad, the resignation of the government and new elections. The plan was not accepted because the UNM leader Nicanor Melia opposed.

This information may form the basis of new accusations against Saakashvili. Despite the fact that he is already accused of dispersing the protests in November 2007, embezzlement of budget funds, illegal seizure of property from the billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili and involvement in the pogrom at the Imedi TV company. Saakashvili was sentenced to 3 and 6 years in prison on two sentences in absentia in cases of murder and an armed attack on a deputy.

President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili refused to pardon the former head of state in order to “be honest with the people who suffered from his regime.” She is confident that Saakashvili arrived in Georgia to destabilize the situation. The ex-president himself considers himself a political prisoner. In solitary confinement in a prison in the city of Rustavi, he went on a hunger strike. He demands the consul of Ukraine, of which he is a citizen (“Mishiko” does not have Georgian citizenship).

Photo: prison in Rustavi, where ex-President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili is.
Photo: prison in Rustavi, where ex-President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili is. (Photo: Oleksandr Stashevskyi / AP / TASS)

Saakashvili’s confidence can be given by the results of the past municipal elections, in which the United National Movement received 30% of the vote. It was about the same in the last elections. The ruling Georgian Dream party gained about 49%, which is due to a second round. Thus, the arrest of the ex-president, although it did not add to his party of votes, prevented the incumbent from winning convincingly in the first round.

The Kremlin reacted to the arrest of Saakashvili outwardly indifferently. “Where Saakashvili is, there is a circus. It is important that this circus does not pose a danger to the citizens of any country where this gentleman is. Therefore, thank God, it is not our question, “he commented Dmitry Peskov… But maybe Russia should take advantage of the situation and try to punish Saakashvili for his Russophobic “tricks” in South Ossetia and Ukraine?

He shared his assessment of the current situation in Georgia Nikolay Krylov, Leading Researcher, Institute of International Studies, MGIMO

– Two forces are fighting for power in Georgia: the Georgian Dream (GM) and the United National Movement. Both are categorically pro-Western, but the West does not know how to reconcile them. Both the EU and the US are now in a stupid position.

On the one hand, the elections were correct. Both the past ones are parliamentary and the present ones are municipal. Besides, how can Georgia be presented with claims about the elections, if it has been intensively democratized for more than a decade and a half – institutions are being built there with the help of the West? On the other hand, what about the faithful clients of the UNM party? They are their own. They have lobbyists, contacts in Brussels, in Washington. You cannot leave them.

At the same time, UND behaves like a capricious child who was not given candy. They threaten to refuse to work in parliament, to bring supporters out of the streets, to demand that Georgian voters reconsider their choice. How the West can get out of this situation is not clear. I think the crisis will not end with these elections, the protests will continue, the UNM will look for new reasons for aggravation. And “Georgian Dream”, of course, will give these reasons. Saakashvili’s arrest also contributes to this.

SP: – The Kremlin clearly has a grudge against Saakashavili for the Rose Revolution, for South Ossetia, for post-Maidan Ukraine …

– For Russia, both Georgian political forces are the same. There are shades, but they are insignificant … As for the “grudge against Saakashvili”, our country is a nuclear power, a member of the UN Security Council, one of the most influential states on the planet. Who is Saakashvili so that we have a grudge against him ?! Russia has already dealt with him in August 2008. And the Georgian voters figured it out when they gave him a ride in the 2012 elections.

Of course, the investigation of the criminal case on the events in South Ossetia continues. There are materials on this topic. But this is not called “a grudge against Saakashvili.” Now he will also be charged with illegal border crossing in Georgia – a case with good judicial prospects. As for Saakashvili’s calls to gather in a crowd and go to overthrow the government, this is only formally a call for a coup.

But how does this differ from the methods by which Saakashvili once came to power? Then everyone in Georgia agreed that it was not a coup, but a “revolution of roses” and a breakthrough to freedom and democracy. And in the West, political circles agreed with this (although, for example, in academic circles, the view is more complex). Coups in Georgia and Ukraine are not considered coups there. But if now in Tbilisi they still want to investigate this criminal case, they will investigate.

“SP”: – Most likely they will. The support of 30 percent of voters is a lot. Saakashvili is dangerous for the current government …

– Many small parties go to parliamentary elections, but they do not spend resources on municipal elections. The situation with the domination of two parties is precisely due to this. However, both parties are interested in confrontation, as in this way they mobilize their supporters. Thanks to this, the opposition shows a decent result, and the ruling party shifts the focus of voters’ attention from their actions to the issue of returning or not returning Saakashvili.

The “United National Movement” is not homogeneous. There was a split there a few years ago. There were controversies over the party leader. There are groups of radicals who advocate a permanent crisis, and there are those who are ready to be content with the role of a large parliamentary party. Obviously, the radicals are still winning, because the return and arrest of Saakashvili feeds them. In addition, Saakashvili is the creator of the United National Movement.

“SP”: – Saakashvili still needs to survive in prison. During his war with the criminal world of Georgia, he probably made many enemies for himself. True, many years have passed since those reforms …

“I think they’ll keep him in prison. Dust particles will be blown off it. Because Georgian Dream has yet to bargain over the terms of its transfer to Ukraine. Nobody will allow criminal bosses to see him and will not allow him to take revenge.

As for the reforms, real institutional reforms – local government, judicial system, civil service – began to be carried out in Georgia after Saakashvili left power. He himself used Shevardnadze’s legacy, as it was more profitable.

The only thing that Saakashvili achieved was to consolidate power and carry out a constitutional reform, after which Georgia became a parliamentary republic, which is why it is now constantly shaking.

Injured near Tskhinvali military correspondent “KP” Alexander Kots noted that Saakashvili will one day have to bear responsibility for war crimes.

– In Georgia, there is a conflict between two political forces, each of which blames the other for all mortal sins, in working for the Kremlin. Russia has so spoiled relations with this country at the level of the authorities that the current scandal, it seems to me, will in no way add tools to improve them. Both forces are negatively disposed towards the Russians. Remember, when Saakashvili landed on the shore of Batumi, he immediately announced that the Russians were buying real estate there. That is, the Russians are a threat to them.

But at the level of ordinary people, the relationship is quite acceptable. I was in Georgia several years ago and did not feel any rejection of myself as a citizen of Russia. At the same time, during periodic unrest, Russophobic slogans are heard in Tbilisi, Russian flags are burned, and our parliamentarians are kicked out. If Russia could somehow influence the situation, it would only grow loyal cadres there with the help of lobbying and soft power tools.

I do not think that Russia should seriously interfere in the current conflict and hope to become its beneficiary.

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